In a screen for cell-cycle regulators, we identified a Drosophila maternal effect-lethal mutant that we named ;no poles' (nopo). Embryos from nopo females undergo mitotic arrest with barrel-shaped, acentrosomal spindles during the rapid S-M cycles of syncytial embryogenesis. We identified CG5140, which encodes a candidate RING domain-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase, as the nopo gene. A conserved residue in the RING domain is altered in our EMS-mutagenized allele of nopo, suggesting that E3 ligase activity is crucial for NOPO function. We show that mutation of a DNA checkpoint kinase, CHK2, suppresses the spindle and developmental defects of nopo-derived embryos, revealing that activation of a DNA checkpoint operational in early embryos contributes significantly to the nopo phenotype. CHK2-mediated mitotic arrest has been previously shown to occur in response to mitotic entry with DNA damage or incompletely replicated DNA. Syncytial embryos lacking NOPO exhibit a shorter interphase during cycle 11, suggesting that they may enter mitosis prior to the completion of DNA replication. We show that Bendless (BEN), an E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, interacts with NOPO in a yeast two-hybrid assay; furthermore, ben-derived embryos arrest with a nopo-like phenotype during syncytial divisions. These data support our model that an E2-E3 ubiquitination complex consisting of BEN-UEV1A (E2 heterodimer) and NOPO (E3 ligase) is required for the preservation of genomic integrity during early embryogenesis.